Blood Pressure and Losing Weight

Recent research shows that exercise is effective in lowering blood pressure. All types of exercise including both cardiovascular and resistance training were beneficial. Blood pressure medication is more effective than exercise in creating a difference but this research is still very encouraging for people to keep up their exercise. Please make sure you check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. See our Facebook post for further information.

You have probably heard that it isn't just exercising alone that helps you to lose weight, it is mainly what you eat. Research discussed in the New Scientist, January 19, 2019, shows that our bodies have a set amount of calories that it uses per day so extra exercise doesn't allow you to eat too much more food. There are several reasons for this:

1) if someone does a heavy work out, they often compensate for this by being less active or fidgety throughout the rest of the day because their body is recovering. This was shown in mice who were given running wheels and prompted to exercise, they were less active for the rest of the day.

2) People who are used to exercising become more efficient at using calories, therefore, they don't need as many calories for their daily life and exercise.

3) Our bodies have possibly evolved to use a certain amount of calories regardless of the activity we are doing. The Hadza people in Tanzania, are very active. The men walk at least 10km/day hunting for game and the woman gather food by digging for wild tubers and picking berries yet still only burn around 2000-2600 calories/day. This is only slightly more than people who drive to work and sit all day. It takes more energy and effort for a larger person to go about their daily life than an individual in a healthy weight range. When people start to lose weight, their metabolism slows down. If they start to put it back on, their metabolism stays at the slower rate as if their mass was smaller compared to their pre-weight loss state. This makes it easier to put weight back on, because our bodies have evolved to make sure we survive - smart, but kind of unfair given the abundance of food in this day and age!

If a person exercises like crazy, their metabolism also slows down because their body isn't spending enough time repairing their internal systems and can find themselves with injuries that don't heal, not being able to shake a cold or having disrupted menstrual cycles. However, there are good reasons to do moderate amounts of exercise as there are a myriad of other health benefits: improved cardiovascular health, better brain function and reduced risk of chronic conditions such as Alzheimer's.

If you experience any back pain whilst exercising please get in touch with us so we can help, please reply contact us or book online.

Gut Health

Just a quick one this time. The type of bacteria in your gut can influence your mood. You can change the type of bacteria in your gut by making smart, healthy food choices. It has been shown that positivity improves one's decision-making skills. If you would like more information about this, check out this video.

If you have any questions regarding your gut health, please do contact us to see if we can help you out.

Neck Strain

There is a good chance it is coming from your 'Forward Head Posture' (FHP).

Your head should sit directly on top of the neck and shoulders. Imagine a bowling ball sitting on top of a vacuum cleaner pipe.  If the bowling ball rolls forward it is putting enormous pressure on the vacuum cleaner pipe, as in the case of FHP.  The neck and shoulder muscles become very tense and tight leading to tension and pain.  It can also cause disc problems and other arthritic problems in the neck. Other issues it can lead to are: headaches, back, neck, arm and hand pain and tingling.  It can also cause problems with one’s bite and jaw pain. FHP alters the body’s ability to control your balance leading to a greater risk of injuring yourself.
 
Causes:
It is usually from being sedentary and spending most of your time sitting down and/or slouching e.g. driving a car, work, watching tv and using a computer, and backpacks.  It is the repetitive nature of these activities that causes it.
 
How do I know if I have FHP?
Have someone look at you side on.  The middle of the ear hole should be in a straight line up from the centre of the shoulder.  If this is not the case, please consult your Chiropractor as it can cause spine and nerve damage. 
 
How can I prevent or manage it?

  • Consult a Chiropractor as it may be possible to improve it through corrective treatment
  • Correct work station set up 
  • Every 20-30minutes take a mini-stretch break or stand up
  • Use a low back support in your car and at your workstation
  • When wearing a backpack keep both straps on your shoulders and close against your back.  It should not weigh more than 10-15% of your body weight

If you would like help with your forward head posture please contact us or book online to so our chiropractors and massage therapist can help you to start feeling better.

Sciatica

Sciatica describes symptoms of buttock and leg pain. This sometimes includes tingling, numbness or weakness. It originates in the lower back and travels through the buttock and down the large sciatic nerve in the back of each leg.

Common lower back problems that can cause sciatica symptoms include a lumbar herniated disc, degenerative disc disease (caused by osteoarthritis), spondylolisthesis, or spinal stenosis (caused by osteoarthritis). Sciatica isn't an actual diagnosis, it's just referring to the symptoms.  Often people refer to their back or leg pain as sciatica but if your pain isn't going below your knee, it's unlikely to be caused by your sciatic nerve, even if it's a really sharp pain. 

Sciatica Nerve Pain Characteristics

It may comprise of one or more of the following:

  • Constant pain or pain brought on by certain movements in only one side of the buttock or leg (rarely in both legs)
  • Pain that is worse when sitting, coughing, sneezing or going to the toilet 
  • Leg pain that is often described as burning, tingling, or searing as opposed to a dull ache
  • Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg, foot, and/or toes
  • A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or walk and pain getting in and out of a chair
  • Pain that radiates down the leg and possibly into the foot and toes 

Sciatic pain may range from being mild and occurring infrequently to excruciating and debilitating. In rare and extreme cases, where the pain is caused by a disc herniation, it may cause a condition called cauda equina syndrome which can result in a loss of bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction. This is a medical emergency.

The Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica

The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body and is made up of 5 individual nerve roots which exit from the Lumbar spine (lower back). Sciatica symptoms occur when the large sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed at or near its point of origin.

If you're experiencing sciatica symptoms please contact us as our chiropractors can help you out. 


How is it diagnosed

Your chiropractor will take a thorough history to determine when and how the injury occurred as well as what aggravates and alleviates it. You will be taken through a series of tests including orthopaedic and neurological testing and muscular strength test providing it doesn't increase your pain. You may also have X-rays taken to check for any slippage of a vertebra, osteoarthritis, disc narrowing and the amount of curvature in your spine. 

Treatment

Bed rest isn't a good idea unless you just can't get out of bed and try to minimise it to a few days. Try to move as much as your pain will allow you to as it will help you to heal faster. Try bending forwards, backwards, side to side and rotating only in a comfortable range.

Spinal manipulation has been shown to help reduce pain (1). This in combination with exercises specifically prescribed for you will help you recover faster. 

If needed, take pain killers to help you tolerate your severe pain and get adequate rest. Don't over do it just because you can't feel the pain anymore as you may cause further injury. Heat packs can also help to manage the pain.

Surgery is a last resort and most cases can be managed with conservative chiropractic care. 

Our chiropractors have had extensive experience in dealing with clients who have sciatica. If you would like help with this please contact us or book in online.

(1) https://nccih.nih.gov/health/pain/spinemanipulation.htm#science

Alcohol and Sleep

Ever felt sleepy after consuming alcohol? Alcohol doesn't help you to sleep, it actually sedates you. Similar to a light anaesthesia. It breaks up your sleep because it causes you to wake up many times for a short period, you just don't remember it.

It also suppresses REM sleep. This is when we dream and if we suffer from lack of REM sleep it impairs our ability to learn complex tasks. (1) Even moderate consumption of alcohol in the afternoon and evening can impair this.

Consuming alcohol before bed can affect your ability to form new memories, not only for any that day but for several days prior as well. This is from research where test subjects were given 2-3 shots of vodka (This is the equivalent to 2-3 standard glasses of wine or beer)
after learning new information. Those that drank alcohol retained the least amount of information when retested 7 days later, followed by those who drank 2-3 days after learning the new material and those who didn't drink at all remembered all of the new information. (2)

Any amount of alcohol appears to affect one's sleep quality. Sounds like a couple of alcohol free days per week is good advice.

If you have any questions regarding this or would like help with your back pain. Please contact us as our chiropractors would love to help you out.

(1) https://www.howsleepworks.com/types_rem.html

(2) 'Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams', Matthew Walker

Dead Butt Syndrome

Chiros see this constantly and it is also called gluteal amnesia. It's mainly because most of us sit all the time. We drive to work or sit on the bus/train, sit at work, drive or catch public transport home then sit in front of the tv or read. We might throw in a walk or a gym session but that isn't enough to undo the number of hours we have spent on our bottom.

When we sit down our glute (bottom) muscles need to relax in order for us to maintain that posture. Our hip flexors (muscles at the front of our legs) are switched 'on' and they often stay that way when we stand up. 
 

Lower limb muscles

Lower limb muscles


How can I tell if I have a 'dead butt'?

  • Flat/saggy butt
  • Tight hamstrings, lower back or hip flexors
  • Lower back pain

Why is it a bad thing?

If your glutes don't work, then your lower back and hamstrings (muscles at the back of your legs) need to work overtime to compensate which is why they get tight and often don't loosen up regardless of how much stretching you do.

What can be done about it?

Work it, baby! but even if you do glute exercises, these muscles may not even switch on because in a way your brain may have forgotten about them. That is where chiropractors can help as we work on the spine which influences the nerves and causes our brain and glutes to communicate again.  Also, all of our practitioners are able to check you have the correct form when doing exercises.

Some great exercises for it are clams and hip hinges, both pictured below. Glute bridges usually have too much hamstring activation, if our glutes have switched off so don't go nuts thinking you are firming up your bottom because most likely you aren't.

   Clam exercise: make sure your hips/lower back don't roll backwards

 

Clam exercise: make sure your hips/lower back don't roll backwards

Hip hinge: keep your weight over your heels and evenly between both feet

Hip hinge: keep your weight over your heels and evenly between both feet

If you think this might be stopping you from being more active or pain-free please book online or email us as our North Ryde chiropractor and remedial massage therapist love helping you out.

Standing Work Station Ergonomics

So, you have yourself a standing work station. They're awesome! Whilst they take a lot of strain off the discs in your lower back and muscles it also means you are burning more sugar and fats i.e. calories. We will be taking a look at the benefits of having one, how it should be set up correctly, common postural mistakes and how to correct them.

Benefits

  1. It is much better for your core spinal muscles – providing you stand properly and can lower the incidence of neck and upper back pain by up to 54%. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23057991
  2. Reduces the risk of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer which seem to be affected by activity. It also reduces the risk of obesity because you burn more calories which helps to prevent heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
  3. It can also help to increase productivity and boost your mood.
  4. Our core muscles become less active when we sit especially for long periods of time. When we stand they're much more active but only if they're strong and haven't been damaged, think use it or lose it. I won't go into how to strengthen your core as that's a whole topic of its own. The problem with this is they support all the joints in our spine and if they are weak you are more likely to injure yourself.
5bafa4158b8d9b0e20dbeedf2fcc1630--standing-desk-height-standing-desks.jpg

Set up

As with sitting down to use a computer the set-up is very important as well.

  1. Desk height should allow a 90degree angle at elbows with keyboard at a comfortable distance in front of you
  2. Monitor arm's length from eyes
  3. Top of screen not monitor level with eyes
  4. If wear bifocals, top of screen level with upper most part of near sighted section. 
  5. If using two monitors, whichever monitor you use the most be directly in front of you. If you use two equally, put them together on an angle with the edges touching. 

Problems that may arise

 A picture speaks a 1000 words so have a look at the accompanying image. I caught myself a couple of times standing with my weight significantly over one leg and then also leaning on my elbow. This caused my spine to curve which creates wear and tear.

Also, watch out for rounding your shoulders and sticking your chin forward. This causes a huge increase in strain for your upper back and neck, again, causing wear and tear which eventuates in pain and arthritis.

Standing up is hard work. Partly because it takes time to get used to it but even after you have been doing it for a while your heart needs to work harder to pump the blood around your body and your muscles have a fatigue cycle so they need some rest. To help out with this, alternate between sitting and standing every 45-60 minutes.

Acquiring a standing work desk is absolutely a win for your health. Please remember to have it set up correctly and stand properly as this does wonders for your spine and body.

If you have any questions regarding this or would like help with any spine, muscle or joint pain please contact us, book online or call our North Ryde chiropractor on 8096 6781.